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Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Labour Day just got a whole lot more interesting.

For people in Hamilton, the first Monday in September means one thing -- hosting the Toronto Argonauts in the Labour Day Classic.

If you're not really aware of what this game is about, visualize Auburn- Alabama, Michigan-Ohio State, Army-Navy or any other huge rivalry game.

This year, to the chagrin of almost everyone, the CFL decided to keep the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton, but instead of the Argos paying a visit, the defending Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes will provide the opposition.

Hamilton fans were irate, saying the game wouldn't have the same intensity.

Hold on.

While the Als don't evoke the same passion that the Argos do when they play at Ivor Wynne Stadium, they are rapidly becoming disliked in the Steel City.

First, they're the champions. Heck, they've been the champions for the last two seasons. If you go back even further, since 2000, they've been in the big game eight times, winning the Grey Cup on three occasions.

Als general manager Jim Popp has been called arrogant by fans. Perhaps the fact that Montreal is a perennial winner leads to that conclusion.

But Popp certainly got the venom flowing a while ago, when he took a not-so- subtle shot at running back Avon Cobourne, a six-year veteran from West Virginia who played five seasons with the Als.

The 2010 season was a frustrating one for Cobourne, who was quoted as saying he didn't get enough carries.

The Als chose not to offer Cobourne a contract, and he signed a new deal with the Tiger-Cats. Shortly after, Popp went on a Montreal radio station and said, among other things, that Cobourne wasn't offered a new deal because he wanted to be the highest-paid player on the team and had injury issues.

He added that Hamilton president Scott Mitchell wanted to "make a splash" and "rolled out the red carpet" by signing Cobourne. Popp also threw Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille under the bus, claiming that Bellefeuille didn't want to use Cobourne when he was the offensive coordinator in Montreal.

Then, the Als signed running back DeAndra' Cobb, who was released by Hamilton. To further add fuel to the fire, the Tiger-Cats released kicker Sandro DeAngelis last month after one season in Hamilton. DeAngelis won a Grey Cup with Calgary in 2008.

Last year he struggled with Hamilton, hitting just 32-of-42 field goals for a career-low 76 percent.

"I expected that I was going to be given a chance to bounce back," he told AM 900 CHML News. "It's too bad that I'm not going to get the opportunity, but this is the business I've signed up for. I'll be just fine, I'm going to move on, and hopefully be bigger and better than ever."

Shortly after, he signed with Montreal. Will DeAngelis get a chance to kick the winning field goal on Labour Day, and then celebrate with his patented soccer-style goal celebration?

Or, will Cobourne stick it to the team that, in his mind, disrespected him?

The early game story is now written. This should be a doozy.

Notes:

It was a huge success last year and will be the same in 2011.

Fewer than 1,000 tickets are left for "Touchdown Atlantic," a neutral-site game at the campus of the University of Moncton, in New Brunswick.

Last year, a sellout crowd of 20,725 watched the Edmonton Eskimos defeat the Toronto Argonauts 24-6 in the CFL's first-ever regular season game in Atlantic Canada.

This year's game, between the Tiger-Cats and the Calgary Stampeders, will be played September 25.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at ted@900chml.com.

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